Suzuki’s Equator Pickup And The Lance 1575 Travel Trailer
Steadily climbing fuel prices have focused truck and RV manufacturers on producing purpose-built rigs designed to deliver clever features in a small, well-built rig that makes you feel smart — not cheap — for purchasing it.
Above all, Lance Camper knows a thing or two about putting good things in small packages. As one of the premier manufacturers of truck campers, compact comfort, clever use of space, exceptional build quality and generous feature content is the name of Lance’s game.
As the smallest of six travel trailers in Lance’s lineup, you might wonder how livable the 1575 could be. With just a single axle and an overall length of less than 20 feet, our old expectations of a stripped-down “penalty box” couldn’t help but resurface. But one look inside laid our doubts to rest. We found an electric slideout with a very roomy U-shaped dinette. Not to mention a queen-size bed up front, a flat-panel LCD television, stereo, and a warm, inviting interior decor. Our rig was also fitted with some very useful options, such as a power awning ($754), microwave oven ($210) and a Fan-Tastic powered roof vent ($215). We could definitely get used to this.
Clearly, Lance built this rig with many thoughtful features, not the least of which was a 3,500-pound GVWR. Look at the tow ratings for many small SUVs, minivans and pickups, and you’ll find a great number of them can easily handle a 3,500-pound trailer. This made the Lance a perfect candidate for a small pickup like Suzuki’s Equator. Available in several different models, we selected the Crew Cab shortbed with the stout 4.0 liter V-6 and 4WD. This truck has a 6,100-pound maximum tow rating, which would leave us plenty of reserve for climbing hills, passing big rigs, etc. And it still offers four doors and room for five in a small, easy-to-maneuver platform. Of course, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Equator is a masterfully cloaked Nissan Frontier — but that’s fine with us, as the Frontier is a well-engineered, reliable truck and Suzuki’s handiwork makes it a handsome rig.
The first thing we noticed is just how maneuverable this combo was. If you’re the type that’s been intimidated by towing in the past, this pair is for you. It turns and backs up effortlessly, and the Suzuki seemed to tow it as if the Lance wasn’t there for the most part. Out on the highway, we were greeted with a rather severe weather system that brought ominous black clouds, driving rain and gusts of wind, but the Suzuki and Lance took it all in stride, never once feeling loose or unpredictable. The only thing we did begin to notice as we crossed the Mojave Desert was how much throttle the Suzuki required to keep moving. It’s a common misconception that a V-6 truck or SUV will be more economical than a V-8 when towing, but we can tell you that usually isn’t the case. During our test, the truck turned in just under 13 mpg, and that’s with conservative driving.
Overall, we found the Suzuki to be a very competent tow vehicle, as well as a truck that we could live with day-to-day. It rides comfortably, is easy to get in and out of, and it has plenty of power for its size. And in the Crew Cab layout, the rear seats have more than enough legroom for full-size adults.
It was nearly dark when we pulled into our campground, and many of the more desirable sites were already taken. Fortunately, thanks to the 4WD in the Suzuki and the lighter weight of the Lance, we were able to slide down into a more primitive spot right on the shores of a beautiful lake. After plugging into our AC-generator (which we carried in the bed of the Equator), we prepared a simple dinner and relaxed for the rest of the evening.
The galley has all the features and room one could expect in a trailer this size, and we were impressed by the large, round sink that comes with a cover that doubles as a cutting board. Sitting down for a meal was easy with the generously proportioned dinette, and the television on a swing-out mount provides a good viewing angle from anywhere in the trailer. We also found the three-way Norcold refrigerator had plenty of room for all the groceries we brought along.
When it was time to turn in for the evening, the bath area offered adequate space for bedtime, and the combination tub/shower worked about as well as could be expected for a mid-range travel trailer. We did, however, develop a love/hate relationship with the sliding door; we loved the fact that you could enter the bathroom on the road without having to deploy the slide completely, but hated the constant rattling noise it made as we moved about the interior. It’s not a deal breaker, but we wish the door were mounted more securely.
We found the forward queen-size bed was a comfortable place to turn in, with plenty of support and adequate elbowroom. The dinette also turns into a bed that will accommodate two, although we think children would probably be most comfortable here.
We really appreciated the abundance of exterior and interior storage. Like any RV, there’s the usual overhead storage throughout, and there is a large wardrobe just forward of the refrigerator. However, Lance takes it one step further with storage underneath the dinette, and a large pass-through storage area underneath the forward queen bed that is accessible from inside the trailer. This large pass-through is not lighted, but it does have the water pump and winterizing valves located in one convenient area on the street side. Incidentally, the water pump was virtually silent, and the optional pullout storage tray is a nice touch. Our only suggestion here would be to mount the tray on roller bearings, as once it is heavily loaded, it can be difficult to move in and out.
The 300-pound cargo-carrying capacity (as tested) does leave little room for supplies. To add a little wiggle room, you’ll be best off traveling with the tanks empty and finding a water source at the campground. Either way, you’ll need to pack wisely.
During the day, as the warm breeze blew across the Owens Valley, we delighted in the standard Thermopane Euro Windows, which have built-in screens and can tip fully open to provide an open-air experience. Most RV windows can only be partially opened, so the Lance windows are welcome components.
It was a refreshing surprise to find an on-demand, tankless water heater in a trailer this size. And here’s something else that we really have to applaud Lance for: a comprehensive owner’s manual. In our experience, most small trailer manufacturers provide little more than a bag full of the appliance manuals, without giving the owner any clue as to how to actually use the rig.
Indeed, it was hard to find fault with the Lance 1575, as it was a remarkably well-equipped and livable unit for its size. The only things we didn’t like were the spring-loaded jacks that were difficult to deploy or stow on uneven ground, and the aforementioned bathroom door. We would also invest in a very good deep-cycle battery, because having only one limits the amount of time you can stay off the grid, unless you have a generator.
So if you’ve been looking for a reasonably priced, easy-to-maneuver combo that can accommodate a small family, you would be hard-pressed to find better than the Lance 1575 and a truck such as the Suzuki Equator. Good things really do come in small packages.
LANCE 1575 TRAVEL TRAILER SPECS
EXT LENGTH: 19’ 6”
EXT WIDTH: 7’
EXT HEIGHT: 9’ 9”
INTERIOR WIDTH: 6’ 10”
INTERIOR HEIGHT: 6’ 6”
CONSTRUCTION: Aluminum frame floor, ceiling, walls; laminated floor and ceiling, one-piece fiberglass roof, block-foam insulation
FRESHWATER CAP: 26 gal
BLACK/GRAY WATER CAP: 25 gal
LP GAS CAP: 5 gal
WATER HEATER: Demand
REFRIGERATOR: 5 cu ft
FURNACE: 18,000 btu
AIR CONDITIONER: 13,500 btu
CONVERTER: 45 amp
BATTERY: Supplied by dealer
TIRES: Radial ST205/75R14
SUSPENSION: Leaf spring
WEIGHT: (freshwater, water heater, lp-gas full; no cargo): 3,200 lb
HITCH WEIGHT: 280 lb
AXLE WEIGHT: 2,920 lb
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING: 3,500 lb
GROSS AXLE WEIGHT RATING: 3,300 lb
CARGO CARRYING CAPACITY: 300 lb
MSRP, BASE: $20,994
MSRP, AS TESTED: $23,952
BASIC WARRANTY: 12 mo.
Equator Crew Cab 4WD Specs
MPG SOLO: 22.9
0-60 MPH, TOWING: 15 sec
40-60 MPH, TOWING: 10 sec
ENGINE: 4.0L V-6
HP: 261 @ 5,600 rpm
TORQUE: 281 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm
TRANSMISSION: 5-speed automatic with overdrive
AXLE RATIO: 3.357:1
FUEL CAPACITY: 21.1 gal
SUSPENSION: Independent front/leaf spring rear
BRAKES: Four-wheel disc brakes
TOW RATING: 6,100 lb
GROSS VEHICLE WEIGHT RATING: 5,600 lb
GROSS COMBINATION WEIGHT RATING: 11,133 lb
WEIGHT AS TESTED: 4,940 lb
LENGTH: 17’ 3”
MSRP, BASE: $27,825
MSRP, AS TESTED: $28,745
BASIC WARRANTY: 3 yr/ 36,000 mi